Phil Mickelson Changes Putting Grip Two Days Before U.S. Open Begins
Pinehurst, N.C. — Phil Mickelson is a constant tinkerer. Whether it’s two drivers, a souped-up three wood or five wedges, Mickelson isn’t afraid to alter the composition of his bag at a moment’s notice.
This time, he’s changing something different: his putting grip. Mickelson will be using the claw grip in an effort to make more short putts on Pinehurst No. 2’s tricky greens.
The claw, said Phil in his Tuesday press conference, will create a “little bit lighter grip pressure and create a softer roll so that I get some of the hit out of it. I was running them way by last week and by taking my bottom hand off the putter, it eliminates some of that hit allowing me to kind of roll the ball softly into the hole.”
Not that he’s completely sold on the claw. True to form, Mickelson was already talking about changing back to his regular grip.
“I want to create more of a brush stroke, so that’s why we have kind of gone to this grip. But if something changes this week and I feel better with the regular grip — gosh, I putted great in the past with it. I may do it. It may be a spur-of-the-moment thing. I don’t know. But right now the game plan is X, but it can certainly become Y in a matter of minutes.”
Hopefully, Mickelson will learn from past mishaps. Mickelson recounted the 2002 U.S. Open where he replaced his entire set of irons after the first round at Bethpage Black and struggled to find correct yardages the rest of the tournament.
“You’ve got to take some risks sometimes,” Mickelson said. “I’ve won Majors with two drivers, with one driver, and with no drivers. I’ve also lost some tournaments because of this. You have to be willing to take risks and be accountable. I feel like right now, after talking with Dave (Stockton) this morning, we kind of had a brief conversation before we started putting. What’s going to give me the best chance to putt these greens well? And this is what we came up with. So if I take the wrong club, if I try to claw, if I put in a couple drivers or no drivers and it doesn’t work out, I’m able to — I’m fine with dealing with my own bad decisions.”
Mickelson used the claw grip in the final round of last week’s FedEx St. Jude and shot an even-par 72. He tees off at 7:51 a.m. Thursday with defending champion Justin Rose and Matthew Fitzpatrick.